Though there had been distribution of dressed dolls from France since the 16th ce

ntury and Abraham Bosse had produced engravings of fashion in the 1620s, the pac
e of change picked up in the 1780s with increased publication of French engravin
gs illustrating the latest Paris styles. By 1800, all Western Europeans were dre
ssing alike (or thought they were); local variation became first a sign of provi
ncial culture and later a badge of the conservative peasant.[18]
Although tailors and dressmakers were no doubt responsible for many innovations,
and the textile industry certainly led many trends, the history of fashion desi
gn is normally understood to date from 1858 when the English-born Charles Freder
ick Worth opened the first true haute couture house in Paris. The Haute house wa
s the name established by government for the fashion houses that met the standar
ds of industry. These fashion houses have to adhere to standards such as keeping
at least twenty employees engaged in making the clothes, showing two collection
s per year at fashion shows, and presenting a certain number of patterns to cost
umers.[19] Since then, the idea of the fashion designer as a celebrity in his or
her own right has become increasingly dominant.[20]
The idea of unisex dressing originated in the 1960s when designers such as Pierr
e Cardin and Rudi Gernreich created garments, such as stretch jersey tunics or l
eggings, meant to be worn by both males and females. The impact of unisex expand
s more broadly to encompass various themes in fashion including androgyny, massmarket retail, and conceptual clothing.[21] The fashion trends of the 1970s, suc
h as sheepskin jackets, flight jackets, duffel coats, and unstructured clothing
influenced men to attend social gatherings without a tuxedo jacket and to access
orize in new ways. Some men's styles blended the sensuality and expressiveness d
espite the conservative trend, the growing gay-rights movement and an emphasis o
n youth allowed for a new freedom to experiment with style, fabrics such as wool
crepe, which had previously been associated with women's attire was used by des
igners when creating male clothing.[22]
The four major current fashion capitals are acknowledged to be Paris, Milan, New
York City, and London, which are all headquarters to the greatest fashion compa
nies and are renowned for their major influence on global fashion. Fashion weeks
are held in these cities, where designers exhibit their new clothing collection
s to audiences. A succession of major designers such as Coco Chanel and Yves Sai
nt-Laurent have kept Paris as the center most watched by the rest of the world,
although haute couture is now subsidized by the sale of ready-to-wear collection
s and perfume using the same branding.
Modern Westerners have a wide number of choices available in the selection of th
eir clothes. What a person chooses to wear can reflect his or her personality or
interests. When people who have high cultural status start to wear new or diffe
rent clothes, a fashion trend may start. People who like or respect these people
become influenced by their personal style and begin wearing similarly styled cl
othes. Fashions may vary considerably within a society according to age, social
class, generation, occupation, and geography and may also vary over time. If an
older person dresses according to the fashion young people use, he or she may lo
ok ridiculous in the eyes of both young and older people. The terms fashionista
and fashion victim refer to someone who slavishly follows current fashions.
One can regard the system of sporting various fashions as a fashion language inc
orporating various fashion statements using a grammar of fashion. (Compare some
of the work of Roland Barthes.)
In recent years, Asian fashion has become increasingly significant in local and
global markets. Countries such as China, Japan, India, and Pakistan have traditi
onally had large textile industries, which have often been drawn upon by Western
designers, but now Asian clothing styles are also gaining influence based on th
eir own ideas.[23]